Friday, October 31, 2008

It's Pizza, Mummy

Tonight we had a fusion of traditions. Every Halloween for nearly a decade, we've had a "Spooky Dinner" which is really just food with a Halloween theme. (Click here to see last year's dinner.)

For the last few months, we've also had a Friday Night Pizza tradition. Tonight we tried to fuse those ideas together into the Pizza Mummy!

It tasted good, anyway.

We had maybe a dozen Trick or Treaters come by tonight, and that might be a generous estimate. Kara took Alyssa around to a few neighbors while I took Anna to her dance/party/activity.

As soon as I got home from dropping Anna off, she called and told me the activity was lame and asked me to come and get her. She said she'd rather spend the evening with her family, and who am I to argue? That's probably not going to happen very often going forward, so I'll take it while I can.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Trunk or Treat, 2008

We've never done Trunk or Treat before, and it actually worked out pretty well. This is an old concept, but for those who aren't familiar, here's the scoop: A group of people (in this case it was for church) get together and park in a parking lot. People decorate their trunks, and the kids get to do Trick or Treating in a controlled and compact environment.

Kind of like speed dating with an intense sugar rush.

Anyway, here are our Trunk or Treaters.

I got out the wig I wore years ago to dress up as Kenny G. The consensus this year is that I was Weird Al. I can go for that.

We met at the parking lot by the little Youth Activity Center.

Here are the lame decorations that we came up with at the last minute for our trunk. Actually, the ghosts are pretty cool - Anna did these - and simple decorations are better than nothing, I guess. There were some dang elaborate setups, though.

There were a lot of kids, and for a while we thought we would run out of candy. But we came out OK.

I think we'll not do Trick or Treating tomorrow night. One night is enough.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

My Poor, Neglected Weblog

To read this thing, you would think that nothing is going on here in Willow Park, Texas. But that would not be entirely true. There are quite a few things happening. Unfortunately, they tend to involve financial challenges and swallowed pride and I just don't want to blog about them.

However, Halloween is coming, and that always provides some fun, blogable moments. We have our Spooky Dinner scheduled, and I think we'll do the ward's Trunk or Treat Thursday night. I'm not sure what we'll do on Halloween, but I don't really want to go out Trick or Treating. Anna has a 6th grade dance, and we've decided to let her go to that. I've suggested taking Alyssa to the mall in her costume. That should be fun and interesting and comfortable and free.

Speaking of Alyssa, we may be participating in a clinical study of Pentasomy X, which is the chromosome disorder that she has (5 X chromosomes instead of the traditional 2). It would be an all-expense-paid trip to the DC area, plus compensation for participating in the study. It would involve her getting an MRI done, and so lately we've been practicing the "statue game" to see if we can get her to hold perfectly still for 10 minutes. I think she'll be able to do it with a little work. She can be pretty still when she wants to, and being in an MRI machine would probably be intimidating enough that she would freeze right up.

OK, that's enough of a post to ease my conscience. I'll be sure to take lots of pictures of Halloween and the other adventures of the weekend, like the Young Men's service project taking place in our back yard on Saturday. I can hardly wait.

Monday, October 27, 2008

This and That

My blog is being a little neglected lately. It happens. Here are a few little random snippets to bring you up to date.

  • This weekend, I finally, finally, FINALLY got all of our stuff out of storage units and into the house. Our spare bedroom is now full of boxes, and I have a large lineup of things in the garage that need to find their way into the attic. I am ready for a grand purge and to become a student of minimalism.
  • This is Red Ribbon week at Alyssa's school, and today is Pajama Day. She wanted to wear her Spider Man pajamas, of course. Fortunately, these jammies are a good choice for school.
  • This morning, as I was getting Alyssa ready for school, I kept freaking out every time I saw her because it was almost time for the bus and she was still in her pajamas!
  • We got some nice cold air last night - dropped down into the thirties. Highs for the next few days should be in the sixties. It's fall in Texas, ladies and gentlemen.
  • Today is our family Lyme Doctor trip. I've got some new aches and pains I need to ask about. Hopefully it's nothing.
And that's a little snapshot to keep you up to date.

Saturday, October 25, 2008


Last night we actually went out, kinda sorta like normal people do. It was a Friday night in Texas, and that means High School Football!

As mentioned earlier, Anna is in the 6th grade band, and last night was their first "concert." At the end of the high school band halftime show, the 6th, 7th, and 8th graders (seen sitting past the far end zone) ran onto the field and played a couple of songs with the high school band.

They sounded really good. Unfortunately the batteries in my camera died before I could get a picture of everyone on the field. However, I did manage to patch up the video camera with packing tape and get their performance on Hi8. Someday we'll be able to digitize, and I can share it with all of you.

It was a lot of fun getting out. It's rather interesting taking Alyssa out to things like this - it seems like every other person knows her. This makes sense, as she's had two teachers every year, plus aides and therapists and students from both her functional academics and her mainstream classrooms.

Unfortunately, whenever Alyssa sees someone she knows in such a public setting, she simply covers her eyes and hides, burying her face in my side. We're really hoping we can get her out of this little habit.

Our original plan was to leave after half time, and once we tracked down Anna to trade her euphonium for some clothes and a sleeping bag (she did a sleep-over with a band friend last night), we decided the plan was still a good one. When the home team is up 63-0 halfway through the third quarter, the game hardly counts as a nail biter.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

The Gamble That Didn't Pay

Back in April, I found myself with an overabundance of delusion. Kara's health was improving miraculously, and the world in general seemed to be a great, optimistic place. So during this period of rose colored vision, I bet my whole wad of Delta Skymiles on a 10-day trip for two to Hawaii.

Well, Kara's health, while making remarkable gains, hasn't improved quite to the point of taking this trip. Even worse, our financial situation is such that there's no way we could take the vacation, even by replacing rental cars and hotel rooms with bus passes and friend's floors. No, this trip is unfortunately not to be.

Finally giving in to reality, I called to cancel the tickets today and found that to get my Skymiles back I will need to pay $100. Ouch and Waaah! I'm going to have to wait a week or two on that. There isn't $100 to spare.

There may never be $100 to spare, but the thought of losing all of those Skymiles still really stings. I'd like to take this trip sometime in the next year or two, and that's not going to happen without Skymiles. I have little hope of earning more miles, as I doubt I'll be doing much flying for work, and our Delta credit card is no more. Those miles are my only hope, and I've gambled them away.

And so here I am, stuck with airline tickets I can't use or return, and not even any beer to cry in.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Waxing Nostaligic

Today was the Primary program in our ward. As always, Anna did really well, singing and smiling and giving her little line with gusto. Alyssa held up a picture and played with her bow when she was supposed to be singing. Yeah, some things never change.

Actually, some things do change. It occurred to me, as I stood there watching my eleven-year-old towering above the rest of the kids, that this was Anna's last Primary program. Ever. (Or at least, until she's called as a Primary teacher a few years hence, and that's just not the same.)

Now, I'm a rather sentimental chap, and I have to admit getting a little misty eyed at the realization. But I'm not suffering from any of this wanting to hold on to the past, at least not right now, and at least not where Anna's concerned.

We watch a lot of home movies at our house, at Alyssa's request. Actually, it's not so much a request any more, now that Alyssa can drive the VCR and DVD all by herself.

Anyway, Kara and I were watching some video from 8 years ago, and Kara said "I am so glad Anna is grown up now."

I have to agree. The three-year-old fireball that was my firstborn took a lot of energy and patience. Kara doesn't think she has enough patience for something like that any more. I'm darn sure I don't have it.

And yes, I know the teen years are right around the corner, and they can take just as much patience as the diaper days - if not more. But I think it's a different kind of patience.

A kind I think I might still have in reserve somewhere.

Friday, October 17, 2008

So far, so good.

Yesterday was a pretty good day, at least as far as how I felt. I've kicked the Motrin habit, thanks to my successful visit to the dentist, and I reduced my dosage of another medication that I'm taking to help with side effects of the antibiotic. Between the two, I seem to be doing much better.

I even had the energy and time to exercise and write this morning. And I feel good enough to blog. That's always a good sign.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Vacation Over

I must say, the two day medication vacation was very successful. I felt better during the last two days than I have for several weeks.

I suspect one reason the antibiotic was hitting me so hard this time around is because I was taking painkillers for an increasingly uncomfortable toothache. I'm not sure if there was any drug interaction, but I should be able to find out now. I made my way to the dentist yesterday, and he found a cracked filling that had allowed significant decay underneath.

My tooth feels much better today, so I should be able to forgo my daily Motrin routine. As I start back in on my antibiotic in just a few minutes, hopefully things will go a little more smoothly this time around.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Medication Vacation

I really need a break. Not from work or the kids, but from my antibiotic regimen. The last few days have been particularly tough for some reason. I like to think it's because all of those little Lyme bugs are dying and clogging up my neural pathways, but it's probably just because I'm old and getting older and my body needs a break.

The doctor told me to take a break from the meds if I needed to , so today I'm taking a medication vacation, just to see if that helps. So far, so good.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Tag #5 - 50 Things

1. Do you like blue cheese? Absolutely
2. Have you ever smoked a cigarette? Not first hand
3. Do you own a gun? Only plastic ones that shoot rubber pellets
4. What flavor do you add to your drink at Sonic? I get water.
5. Do you get nervous before doctor appointments? Only financially
6. What do you think of hot dogs? Used to love them, now not so much
7. Favorite Christmas Song? O Holy Night
8. What do you prefer to drink in the morning? Strawberry Smoothie
9. Can you do push-ups? A half dozen or so, which is more than a month ago
10. What is your favorite movie? Labyrinth. It's a long story. Maybe I'll share it some day.
11. What’s your favorite piece of jewelry? My Hawaiian ring with Kara's name in Hawaiian on it
12. Favorite hobby? writing
13. Do you work with people who idolize you? They keep me around. That's good enough.
14. Do you have ADD? That's a good question. Hey, look! A squirrel!
15. What’s one trait that you hate about yourself? I'm terrible at reading social cues
16. What’s your middle name? "J"
17. Name three thoughts at this moment: Four minutes until I stop blogging and start working. I hope my latest driver works right. My tooth hurts.
18. Name 3 things you bought yesterday: It was Sunday, so I only bought Fire Insurance.
19. Current worry right now? There's a lot of days between the 15th and 31st. Hope the money holds out.
21. Current hate right now? Feeling Medicated
22. Favorite place to be? With my family
23. How did you bring in the New Year? With a weak cheer from the couch and then ushering everyone to bed.
24. Where would you like to go? Sea World
25. Name three people who will complete this? Me, Myself, Kim.
26. Whose answer do you want to read the most? Kim
27. What color shirt are you wearing? Blue
28. Do you like sleeping on satin sheets? Not particularly
29. Can you whistle? Masterfully
30. Favorite color? It's changed to purple
31. Would you be a pirate? Yes, and I have the floppy disks to prove it
32. What songs do you sing in the shower? Six Little Ducks. I only sing when helping Alyssa with her shower.
33. Favorite girl’s name? Xondra
34. Favorite boy’s name? Cassion (as in Cassion Carey)
35. What’s in your pocket right now? Nothing, which reminds me I need to go unplug my phone.
36. Last thing that made you laugh? Anna doing Bill Cosby impersonations
37. Best bed sheets as a child? The ones with the top sheet fitted at the bottom. Now THAT was cool!
38. Worst injury you’ve ever had? Split my chin slipping in the bathtub as a child
39. What is your favorite snack? gingerbread
40. Favorite thing to do on Sundays? Bake cookies
41. Who is your loudest friend? Anna
42. How many dogs do you have? zero
43. Does someone have a crush on you? Doesn't everyone?
45. What is your favorite book? (where was #44?) The Dictionary
46. What is your favorite candy? KitKat
47. What is your favorite sports team? I'm with Nicole - Kahuku High School football
48. What song do you want played at your funeral? Aloha O'e
49. What were you doing 12 AM last night? Sleeping
50. What was the first thing you thought of when you woke up this morning? This is going to be ugly

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Tag #4 - Seven Random Things About Me

My sister Noreen tagged me for this one - I guess it was paybacks for the two times I tagged her.
  1. We don't have cable or satellite, and our antenna was destroyed in a hail storm. We don't get broadcast television in our house, although with streaming internet video, we really don't feel we've lost out. And lets hear it for no campaign commercials. Woo hoo!
  2. As a missionary, I had a lot of fun making and sending out "rattlesnake teeth" to unsuspecting friends. This is a contraption made with two paper clips and a rubber band and carefully stuffed in an envelope. The envelope is labeled, and when the recipient opens it, the rubber band unwinds, causing the smaller paper clip to strike the envelope repeatedly, making a rattling sound. Good fun.
  3. I own more pairs of shorts than pants, and even though it's October and my family in Utah has had their first snow of the season, I still wear shorts every day here in Texas.
  4. I once designed our vegetable garden to look like an airport. Unfortunately, the Brandywine Municipal Airport garden never got beyond the design phase.
  5. I drink a "green" smoothie every day made with spinach, strawberries, and bananas. It's not bad. I don't know if it helps or not, but it's part of my routine.
  6. I love Google Reader. I'm currently following 103 blogs. I've learned that some people are very busy, and some people have way too much time on their hands.
  7. As a family, we just finished watching the original Star Wars trilogy last night. This was Anna's family movie night choice.

Tag # 3 - Six Quirky Things

My friend Stephanie tagged me, and I'm supposed to list six unspectacular things about me.

Here are the rules:

Link to me in your post.
Mention the rules on your blog.
List six unspectacular quirks about yourself.
Tag six other bloggers by linking them.

...and have fun.

  1. I have a thing about accuracy in books and movies. I don't care how good the plot, when something glaringly impossible happens (like when Percy Jackson climbs out the back door of a Camaro) I get very upset.
  2. I'm a bit of a blog stalker, particularly when it comes to people in and around Laie and BYU-Hawaii. This is in connection with the book I'm writing, which is set in Laie. I've been back a couple of times since moving from Hawaii in '92, but it doesn't look like I'll be going back before I hope to submit this book, and I need to make sure I'm as accurate as I can be.
  3. I bake cookies every Sunday. At least, I have for the last month or so. This is a good family activity, and gives us good snacks to send with the girls in their lunches.
  4. My medication has robbed me of most of my patience. I'm trying - really, really trying - to remain even-headed through this treatment, but my "angry voice" comes out much more quickly than I would like to admit.
  5. I have four and a half times as many computers as children. It's true! 9 computers, but only three are fully functional - one for me, one for Kara, and one for the girls. One is older than my two kids put together.
  6. In my job, I occasionally work with a guy who sounds just like the aardvark in those old The Ant and the Aardvark cartoons. I have to work extra hard not to laugh whenever he talks.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Free Dump Day

"Free" and "Dump" - two words that each represent compelling needs of our family. Together, they represent how I spent a chunk of my day.

Today was free dump day, so I spent the morning loading the van with broken tile and moldy counter tops and disintegrated cabinets from our remodel two years ago. This large pile of trash in the back yard represented two of my great failings, and it was good to finally get the big stuff taken out.

(The first great failing is just having a large pile of trash in the back yard. The trash was in the part of the yard that needs to be turned into our family vegetable garden - the other great failing.)

I wasn't able to get everything to the dump, but I got everything that was small enough to fit in the van and too big to go in the garbage can.

In theory, there's still time to do a fall/winter garden. I plan to recycle wood from the downed fence for raised beds. One problem we have, though, is that all of our water, including that from the hose bibs, is soft. Gardens tend to turn yellow and die with a steady diet of soft water, so we'll need to tap in to the water as it enters the house and create a non-soft water source.

What about you: What great failing of yours got resolved today?

Thursday, October 9, 2008


I took Alyssa to the oral surgeon today to have her tooth extracted - the one that lost the crown over a month ago. It's been a long haul getting to this point.

Anyway, when we were visiting the oral surgeon last week, I made sure that I could come back with Alyssa while they did the procedure. They said they usually don't have family back, but if needed I could. I assured them that Alyssa would do much better if I was there.

So when we arrived at the oral surgeon today, I was surprised when Alyssa told me she wanted me to wait in the waiting room for her. "Are you sure?" I asked, a dozen times and as many different ways.

Each time, she assured me that she was sure; I was to wait in the waiting room.

So they came and got her, and I told them if there were any problems to come and get me, then I proceeded to wait on pins and needles. My fist thought was that I should have taken my writing to work on. My second thought was that I was far too strung out with worry to do any meaningful writing. So I read about vanadium redox batteries and waited.

I fully expected Alyssa to change her mind and have one of the "dentist's friends" come and get me, and it wasn't too long before I was summoned from the waiting room. But not because Alyssa was having problems. Because she was done.

So now we're changing gauze and giving Motirn and in all, she's doing pretty well.

The tooth fairy needs to go dig around in the couch cushions now.

Viva Routine! Viva Bedtime!

I've come up with a pretty good routine for my days. I have time to get the girls ready, exercise, eat, write, work all of my hours, and spend some time with the kids in the evening. It's great.

Except lately I've been having trouble with the getting up part. I'm sure it's mostly due to being back on antibiotics for the lyme and simply needing more rest, but it's also possibly the hard bed we're sleeping on.

Or maybe it's the strange dreams I've been having, like going through the Wal-Mart drive through self service checkout and not having any money to pay. Or the one where I was called to be the Executive Secretary and Barak Obama was the new Bishop. (I told you they were strange dreams.)

Anyway, I've tried to bump bedtime up by a half hour, but I'm meeting resistance from the troops. It doesn't help that they have found the long-lost Cosby Show season 2 and feel they have to watch three episodes a night.

I'm not sure of the whole point of this post. I get like this when I'm tired. But at least I found time in my routine to write it.

What did you dream about last night?

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Tag #2 Brilliant Weblog Award

My writerly buddy Marcia gave me this award- the Brillante Weblog Award.

Here are the rules: I have to answer the following questions with one word answers and one word only! Then I must pass it on to seven others!

This award comes with a list of questions:

1. Where is your cell phone? hip
2. Where is your significant other? table
3. Your hair color? brown
4. Your mother? Lynn
5. Your father? Ernie
6. Your favorite thing? kids
7. Your dream last night? strange
8. Your dream/goal? published
9. The room you're in? dining
10. Your hobby? writing
11. Your fear? loss
12. Where do you want to be in 6 years? Happy
13. Where were you last night? church
14. What you're not? perfect
15. One of your wish-list items? stamina
16. Where you grew up? Hawaii
17. The last thing you did? toothbrush
18. What are you wearing? Aloha
19. Your TV? Isolated
20. Your pet? Cavies
21. Your computer? Dell
22. Your mood? content
23. Missing someone? yes
24. Your car? Ancient
25. Something you're not wearing? shoes
26. Favorite store? Ikea
27. Your summer? busy
28.Love someone? yes
29. Your favorite color? Chartreuse
30. When is the last time you laughed? today
31. Last time you cried? months

I tag Jewel and Nicole and Noreen (again) and Marri (again) and Dustin and Liz and this late at night, that's close enough to 7.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Tag #1 Meesa Challenge From Nicole

Nicole tagged me with this Meesa challenge thing a week or so ago, so I figured I'd better hurry up and do it.

A. Attached or single? Happily Married
B. Best friend? I'm great at acquaintances, lousy at close friends
C. Cake or Pie? Pie, especially fruit, although I make a mean pumpkin pie
D. Day of Choice? New Years Day. So many possibilities ahead.
E. Essential item? my Treo phone
F. Favorite color? Chartreuse. Actually, I don't like the color all that much, but the name is great!
G. Gummy bears or worms? Bears
H. Hometown? Along with Nicole, I still claim Laie, HI
I. Indulgence? Blogging
J. January or July? January - especially now that we're in Texas
K. Kids? Two
L. Life isn’t complete without? A worthwhile project
M. Marriage date? June 23, 1990
N. Number of brothers and sisters? 5 sisters
O. Oranges or apples? Apples - so very versatile and autumny
P. Phobias? I used to work Technical Support, and now I'm afraid of the phone.
Q. Quotes? “Remember - no matter where you go, there you are.”
R. Reasons to smile? Our family health mysteries are being solved and normalcy is returning
S. Season of Choice? Fall
T. Tag some peeps: I haven't seen this on Karra, Marri, or Noreen's blog
U. Unknown fact about me? My right hip pops when I walk
V. Vegetable? fresh spinach
W. Worst habit? Severe non-perfectionism
X. X-ray or Ultrasound? Ultrasound.
Y. Your favorite food? I'm on a panipopo kick right now
Z. Zodiac sign? Pisces

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Seen and Heard Around Willow Park

I've come across this "Seen and Heard" format around, and thought I would try it out here. Let me know what you think.

Heard this morning -
Anna: "Dad, help! I'm stuck in Alyssa's shirt and I can't get out!"
(We need to pay better attention to hanging shirts on the correct rack.)

Heard the other night after I had a bad reaction to a plate accidentally falling and shattering on the floor -
Don: I'm sorry I yelled at you tonight.
Kara: Yeah, you just yelled at me for no reason.
Don: Well that's because you wouldn't be quiet and let me have my tantrum in peace.

Seen yesterday -
Alyssa "shopping" at Costco:

And yes, she's sound asleep like that.

Heard a while back -
Don talking in an over-the-top accent
Kara: Stop that - you're scaring the kids.
Don: When Bill Cosby talks like that, everybody laughs.
Kara: When Bill Cosby talks like that, it's funny.

Thank you for sharing this first "Seen and Heard" with us.

As for the three (3)! recent tags, I'm working on getting to them and will make time to do them soon.